WILTON MANORS – On Monday, U.S. Marshals arrested former WPTV Channel 5 weatherman Robert J. Lopicola, on charges of sexual activity with minors, lewd and lascivious battery, computer pornography, and child exploitation. Lopicola, 42, was supposed to be arraigned on Tuesday morning in Palm Beach County court, but because he did not have legal representation, the hearing was postponed until this morning. At press time, he was expected to plead not guilty.
According to Lopicola’s probable cause affidavit, two teenage boys told authorities that, sometime between August 2010 and January 2011, they had engaged in sexual activity with Lopicola, whom they met through Craigslist ads.
According to reports, one of the boys, who lived in Boca Raton, was 15 years old at the time. The other, from West Palm Beach, was 17 at the time. Investigators say that the first boy, now 16, came forward to report the battery after moving to live with his uncle in Michigan. Arrest documents say that he was initially reluctant to report the sexual activity, but told Michigan authorities that he believes Lopicola would hurt others if he didn’t come forward.
Lopicola was employed at West Palm Beach television station WPBT Channel 5 for eight years. He abruptly resigned from the station in 2006 without explanation. A 2009 Palm Beach Post blog noted about “his mysterious departure” that “there was no cake, no two weeks’ notice.” He moved to Wilton Manors about a year ago, and was a regular sight on Wilton Dr i ve—powe r – walking and doing push-ups on the corner near his house on Northeast 7 Avenue—as well as at his most recent job, working as a dancer “wrangler” at the Boardwalk Bar.
According to the probable cause affidavit, the first teen met Lopicola after placing an ad on Craigslist. In his ad, the boy lied and claimed that he was 18 years old, but he told authorities he later admitted to Lopicola that he was 15. The arrest report alleges that the two had a sexual encounter in Lopicola’s car near the teenager’s home. Documents say that after moving to Michigan, the teen complied with a request by Lopicola to text nude pictures of himself. He told authorities, “Robert probably likes real young boys, and would hurt others if he didn’t’ tell.”
The arrest report—which graphically describes the alleged encounters— says that Lopicola’s other victim was a 17-year-old junior at Palm Beach Lakes High School, who lived in West Palm Beach. Investigators say that when the boy’s mother came home, she found Lopicola hiding in the shower, which prompted her to notify police.
Under Florida Statute 794.05(1), “A person 24 years of age or older who engages in sexual activity with a person 16 or 17 years of age commits a felony of the second degree,” with “sexual activity” defined as “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another.”